Sunday, July 21, 2024

Saturday round-up: Slow VAR, Szczesny, Zinchenko, Olise

Good morning friends.

Something magical has happened. The sun, the wonderful ball of fire in space that has not been seen in Dublin for many aeons now, has appeared this morning and the air is warm. So, I’m keen to make the most of it, and as such today’s blog will contain some short snippets of stuff rather than the in-depth analysis to which you have grown accustomed …


… let’s start with last night’s 0-0 draw between France and the Netherlands. I thought William Saliba was basically impeccable, but then that’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and the most interesting part of the game was the disallowed goal. Xavi Simons thought he’d scored, but there was a VAR check. The name Stuart Atwell was mentioned. Oh god. Couldn’t they have found someone better? Like Stuart Little? We waited. And waited. And waited.

The VAR in the Euros has been efficient, quick and that has, in no small part, seen decisions accepted much more readily. Not this one. The issue was Denzel Dumfries standing in an offside position right between the Mike Maignan and where the ball went in. I don’t think the French keeper would have been able to get there even if he had been able to dive, but the presence of Dumfries was certainly an impediment.

My rule of thumb with things like this is to put some Arsenal context on it. Would I be unhappy if we had a goal ruled out for that? Absolutely, but then I’d be unhappy if we had a Maradona hand of god goal ruled out after Ben White had picked the ball up like some kind of running back and charged 60 yards up the field. So would I be unhappy if that goal had been allowed to stand against us? In seriousness, yes. I don’t think the issue was the decision, it was far more about the time it took.

In the earlier game, I thoroughly enjoyed the way Wojciech Szczesny conceded a penalty. You can almost see the exact moment he thought ‘Sod it, I’m just gonna clatter this lad’, and so he did. His ‘Ahh well, what can you do?!’ afterwards to the be-clattered Marcel Sabitzer was quite funny too. Obviously not as amusing for Poland as they lost 3-1 and are now out of the tournament, the first side to be eliminated thus far.

And earlier again, Ukraine came from behind to beat Slovakia. Oleksandr Zinchenko was caught out for a cross which led to the opening goal, but he provided an assist for the equaliser and had a decent game all told. Roman Yaremchuk’s winner was a lovely strike, a deft touch and finish, but I don’t think Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka did well enough in the Slovakian goal. Ukraine face Belgium in their final game on Wednesday, and Leandro Trossard’s men are in action today against Romania. Turkey v Portugal could be a tasty one later on too.

In transfer news, David Ornstein reports that Michael Olise has chosen to join Bayern Munich, which makes me a little sad because he is a player I covet like a bastard. But, I’d much rather he went there than Chelsea. No good can come of any decent player going to such an inherently noxious organisation, and I’m glad Olise has been well advised in this matter.

Right, that’s your lot. We will have a weekend edition of our Euro 2024 podcast on Patreon a bit later, for now, enjoy your Saturday.

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